Political Secessionism And Crime

Discover your
family's story.

Enter a grandparent's name to get started.

choose a state:
Start Now

Before the mining period, commencing in 1862, Idaho was a comparatively unknown region belonging nominally to Oregon and afterward to Washington. During the years 1862-3 such was the rush of immigration to this section that Idaho was erected into a territory of the United States government. The enabling act to organize as such was passed by congress in the spring of the latter year, and on the 22d of September William H. Wallace, late delegate to congress from Washington, who had, on July l0th preceding, been appointed governor of Idaho by President Lincoln, issued his proclamation for organizing the territory, with the capital at Lewiston; but the fact of this proclamation was scarcely known to the miners in the wilderness, far removed from mail facilities, until the following spring. Meanwhile the laws of Washington were in force. The first occurrence of the name Idaho territory in the public records seems to have been under date of August 7, 1863, in Boise. James Judge was on that day made assessor.

Previously to his election as delegate Wallace had districted the territory, for judicial purposes, as follows: First district, Nez Percé and Shoshone counties, A. C. Smith judge; second, Boise county, Samuel C. Parks judge; third, Missoula county and the country east of the Rocky mountains, Sidney Edgerton judge. Florence, Bannack City and Hellgate were appointed as the seats of federal courts. Edgerton was named as the chief justice of the territory, and probably should have been given the more populous region of the Boise basin; but Wallace was prejudiced against “imported” judges. Alexander C. Smith, being from Olympia, was given the region containing the capital. Parks, on assuming his duties at Boise City, expressed a hesitation in taking the place due to Edger-ton.

The act organizing the territory fixed the number of representatives for the first session of the legislature at twenty thirteen in the lower house and seven in the upper. Of the seven councilmen Boise county was entitled to two, Idaho and Nez Percé one each, Missoula and Shoshone one jointly, Bannack east of the Rocky mountains one, and all the remainder of the country east of said range, one. The men elected to the “senate” were: First district, E. B. Waterbury, Stanford Capps and Lyman Stan-ford; second district, Joseph Miller and Ephraim Smith; and third district, William C. Rheem. Miller was elected president of the council and J. McLaughlin secretary. The assemblymen were: L. Bacon, of Nez Percé county; C. B. Bodfish, M. C. Brown, R. B. Campbell, W. R. Keithly and Milton Kelly, of Boise county; Alonzo Leland and John Wood, of Idaho county; L. C. Miller, of East Bannack; J. A. Orr, of Shoshone county; and James Tufts, of the Fort Ben-ton district. Tufts was chosen speaker, S. S. Slater chief clerk, Benjamin Need assistant clerk, A. Mann enrolling clerk, P. H. Lynch sergeant-at-arms, and W. H. Richardson doorkeeper. The oath to the members was administered by Judge Parks. Rheem, of the council, and Parks, with a member of the assembly, were appointed a committee to prepare a code. The legislature met December 10, 1863.

By the election, which had been held October 31, Wallace, Republican, was chosen as a delegate, and, being thus taken from the executive chair, W. B. Daniels, of Yamhill county, Washington, became the acting governor.

The general laws passed at the first session of the legislature were not remarkable. Among the special laws was that which organized Owyhee County out of the territory south of Snake River and west of the Rocky mountains. The name “Owyhee” is from the Hawaiian language, and was applied to the river of that name by two Kanakas while trading with the Shoshones in the service of a mercantile company. The county of Oneida was erected, with the county seat at Soda Springs. Alturas County was defined as bounded by Snake River on the south, Idaho County on the north, Boise County on the west, and the one hundred and twelfth meridian on the east, with the county seat at Esmeralda. Several counties now in Montana, east of the Bitter Root Mountains, were outlined, with the designation of their county-seats, as follows: Missoula, Wordensville; Deer Lodge, Deer Lodge; Beaver Head, Bannack; Madison, Virginia City; Jefferson, Gallatin; Choteau, Fort Benton; and three other counties, their respective seats of government being left to the commissioners of the respective counties. This act of the Idaho legislature was a public testimonial of the comparative importance of those towns.

The legislature also incorporated Idaho City, changing its name from Bannack; but the charter was rejected by the election held there subsequently, while the people at the same time elected a full set of city officers. Bannack City was incorporated in Beaver Head County, and Placerville in Boise County.

Among the laws intended for the moral improvement of society was one “for the better observance of the Lord’s day,” which prohibited theatrical representations, horse racing, gambling, cock fighting, or any noisy amusements on Sunday. Another act prohibited the sale of ardent spirits, firearms or ammunition to the In-dians, but the law allowed Indian evidence to be taken in cases of its alleged infraction. A law exempting homesteads from forced sales was passed in order to encourage permanent settlement. Congress was memorialized to appropriate fifty thousand dollars for the construction of a military wagon-road to connect the navigable waters of the Columbia with those of the Missouri namely, from the forks of the Missouri on the east to the junction of the Snake and Clear-water rivers on the west; also to establish a mail route from Salt Lake City to Lewiston, and to treat with the hostile Indians of the Yellowstone country. The mail route mentioned was established.’

In the spring of 1864 the territorial officers were; W. H. Wallace, governor; W. B. Daniels, acting governor and secretary; B. F. Lambkin, auditor; D. S. Payne, marshal; and D. S. Kenyon, treasurer.

As might be expected, the greater increase of population in the southern part of the territory aroused a desire among the people here to have the capital removed from Lewiston to some point southerly and more central, the movement for a separate territory comprising the counties east of the Bitter Root mountains having been already under way, and naturally the contest grew more and more heated until a change was made.

In the meantime acting Governor Daniels rendered himself very unpopular by his opposition to the legislature and other injudicious acts, among which was his threat to give the public printing to a San Francisco firm, after the legislature had appointed Frank Kenyon, publisher of the Golden Age, for the work. In consequence of the evidences of his unpopularity he resigned his office in May, leaving the secretaryship in’ the hands of Silas Cochrane until another appointment should be made.

In regard to Kenyon and the Golden Age, it will be interesting to notice further that this paper was started by A. S. Gould, August 2, 1862, at Lewiston. Being a Republican, he had hot times with the secession immigrants from the south. On raising the United States flag over his office the first ever raised in that town twenty-one shots were fired into it by disunion Democrats. Gould was succeeded by John H. Scranton for a short time, and in August, 1863, Frank Kenyon took charge of the journal and was soon afterward appointed territorial printer. With the decline of Lewiston and the close of the second volume, Kenyon started with his paper for Boise City, but was turned back by influences brought to bear upon him. In January-, 1865, the paper was suspended, and its plant was ultimately removed to Boise. Kenyon started the Mining News, at Leesburg, in 1867 and its publication continued eight months, when the enterprise was abandoned for want of support. The press was then removed back to Montana, whence it had been brought, and Kenyon afterward went to Utah and finally to South America, where he died.

Idaho was opened to the world during our civil war, and a large proportion of the immigrants were secessionists fresh from the southern Confederacy, while there were also not a few sympathizers with the southern cause from the northern states. During those, exciting times it was easy to stir up hot blood. Boise county gave in 1863 four to five hundred majority for the Republican ticket; but such was the rush there of emigrants from the south that the very next year there was a majority of nine to ten hundred for the Democratic candidates, who were known to be in sympathy with the great rebellion. Both these and the criminal element generally had the cause of law-breaking in common, and therefore the early government of Ida-ho territory was more or less influenced by these elements.

In Boise County alone there were more than twenty murders in 1864, with other crimes in proportion. The sheriff of the county was Sumner Pinkham, a native of Maine, who proved a faithful and fearless officer. At the district court held in February 1864, the grand jury found indictments for forty-seven cases of crime.

Correspondingly, on the eve of the presidential election of 1864, the two great parties evidenced the differences in their platform. While the administration party, consisting of Republicans and Union Democrats, declared it to be their highest duty to aid the government in suppressing the great insurrection by force of arms, the opposition party advocated putting an end to the conflict by peaceable means, among these means a possible convention of the states; declared that the interference of military authority with the elections in certain border states was a “shameful violation of the constitution, and that the repetition of such acts in the approaching election will be held as revolutionary and resisted with all the power and means under our control.” This language was specially aimed at the military orders of Colonel Wright, a government officer of Oregon, including this district. The administration was also charged with abusing prisoners of war. All this had the effect to encourage a disregard of all the laws in force in Idaho, as such were considered products of northern tyranny. Hence disunionism and lawlessness generally worked together. The result of the election was almost entirely Democratic, but one Union man being sent to the legislature; and the only Union officers in the territory were those appointed by the general government.

Union editors throughout Idaho had to be “careful.” The Boise News, ostensibly an independent paper, made excuses for the Democratic majority in 1864 by saying that the miners were driven to desert the administration by the policy of the government in proposing to tax the mines, and the very next issue announced the sale of the office to a Democratic publisher. J. S. Butler acknowledged that he sold “the best newspaper in Idaho” rather than encounter the opposition of the disunionists. Said he, “It was all a man’s life was worth, almost, to be seen showing his head in the early days of Idaho.” Knapp and McConnell gave the same account. During the hot campaign of 1864 the leading Democratic sheet was The Crisis, edited by H. C. Street, formerly of the Democrat, of Idaho, and of the Shasta Herald and Colusa Sun, of California.

To protect themselves and their property against the impetuous element described, the Re-publicans of the territory felt obliged to adopt the methods of secret societies, by organizing “vigilance committees.” These methods seemed justifiable, as in the days of 1854 in San Francisco, when the rapid spread of population out-stripped the cumbersome machinery of legislation and court procedure. Criminals of all sorts flocked to Idaho, in part because here they were beyond the reach of law and refined customs. A local defense committee had been organized by miners on Salmon river as early as the autumn of 1862, which drove the worst element from their locality, only to make them more numerous in other parts of the territory. Histories of these crimes are abundant before us, but we must resist the temptation to repeat them, for there is no more reason for the recital of one than of thou-sands of others.

Lewiston was the second community to organize for self-defense, and the occasion was one of the most atrocious crimes on record, the murder of Lloyd Magruder, a prominent citizen of that place, and four others. Magruder had taken a lot of goods and a band of mules to the Beaver Head mines, realizing about thirty thousand dollars, with which he started to return in October. Needing assistance in the care of many pack animals and desiring company on the long and dreary route, he engaged four men, James Romaine, Christopher Lowery, Daniel Howard and William Page, all of whom he had seen in Lewiston and who were well appearing, to return with him to that place. Indeed, the three first named had gone to Beaver Head with no other purpose than to rob and murder Magruder on his way home. Howard was a good-looking, brave young man, of a kindly temper, but reckless in morals, and on account of his accomplishments, including some knowledge of medicine, he was called “Doctor” or “Doc.” Romaine was a gambler. Lowery was a blacksmith, who had been with Mullan in his wagon-road expeditions. Page was a trapper, of none too good reputation.

The particulars of the return trip of Magruder and his murder, etc., we quote from H. H. Bancroft’s history:

When Magruder was about to start he was joined by the persons named, Allen and Phillips, having about twenty thousand dollars in gold dust, and the unknown men with some money. They traveled without accident to a camp six miles from the crossing of the Clearwater, where a guard was stationed as usual. Magruder and Lowery being on the first watch, and the snow falling fast. When the travelers were asleep, the mules becoming restless, both guards started out to examine into the cause of their uneasiness, Lowery taking along an ax, as he said, to make a fence to prevent the animals wandering in a certain direction. Magruder was killed with this ax in Lowery’s hands. Howard and Romaine murdered the two brothers about midnight in the same manner, and soon after killed Allen and Phillips, Allen being shot. So well executed was the awful plot that only Phillips cried out, when a second blow silenced him. Page appears to have been frightened and to have taken no part in the killing. The bodies were wrapt up in a tent cloth and rolled over a precipice; all the animals except eight horses were taken into a cañon off the trail and shot; the camp equipage was burned, and the scraps of iron left from the burning were gathered up, placed in a sack and thrown after the bodies down the mountain. During all this time the murderers wore moccasins, so that the damning deed, if discovered, might be imputed to the Indians.

The guilty men now agreed to go to Puget sound and attempted to cross the Clearwater forty miles above Lewiston; but the weather prevented them and they kept on to Lewiston: here, partially disguised, they took tickets by stage to Walla Walla, and thence to Portland and San Francisco. Something in the manner of the men. the “mark of Cain.” which seldom fails to be visible, aroused the suspicion of Hill Beachy, owner of the stage line who on examining the horses and saddles left in Lewiston became convinced of the robbery and death of Magruder, whose personal friend he was, and whose return was looked for with anxiety, owing to the prevalence of crime upon all the mining trails. Accordingly, with A. P. Ankeny and others, he started in pursuit, but before they reached Portland the murderers had taken steamer for San Francisco, where they were arrested on a telegraphic requisition, and after some delay brought back to Lewiston. December 7 to be tried. The only witness was Page, who had turned state’s evidence, revealed minutely all the circumstances of the crime, and guided Magruder’s friends to the spot where it was committed and where the truth of his statement was verified.

Meanwhile a vigilance committee had been formed at Lewiston which met the prisoners and their guard on their arrival and demanded the surrender of the murderers: but Beachy who had promised them an impartial trial, succeeded in persuading them to await the action of the law. On hearing the evidence the jury, without leaving their seats, rendered a verdict of guilty, January 26, 1864 and Judge Parks sentenced Howard Romaine and Lowery to be hanged on the 4th of March, which sentence was carried into effect. Page was himself murdered afterward, in the summer of 1867 by a desperado named Albert Igo.

This was the first case in the courts of Idaho, and was tried at a special term, the term of court at Idaho City being postponed on account of it. The legislature of Idaho authorized the payment of Beachy’s expenses, which were over six thousand dollars. He died in San Francisco, May 24, 1875.

The murders just described, in connection with the apparent increase of crime, caused a more rapid formation of vigilance committees elsewhere, but inasmuch as the courts proved themselves comparatively prompt in the conviction and sentence of criminals, the Lewiston committee was disbanded in April. By this time the place had become as quiet and orderly as any village in the east.

Owyhee had a few crimes and a number of quarrels among the miners, but on the whole, as Maize, a local historian there, said, “society was exemplary, except some high gambling. If a man was caught doing anything wrong we just killed him; that’s all!” South Boise and the Lemhi mines were cursed with the presence of desperadoes from Montana, where a very active committee of safety was in operation. Warren, for no apparent reason, was never a resort for villainous characters. But the Boise basin was the most afflicted with crime of all the districts of the territory. For some unassigned reason the work of the courts in this region was not effectual in improving the general state of society, while politics dominated the division of the community into classes to such an extent that when a crime was committed the perpetrator was shielded, at least to some extent, behind the immunity of political sectarianism. In 1864 the Union men of Idaho City organized themselves to meet the coming crisis, precipitated by the “Democratic” victory of that year.

Horse-stealing and the theft of all other domestic animals, especially those at grazing on the ranches, were rife, and the settlers suffered in-tensely. W. J. McConnell, for example, a gardener on the Payette, was left without a horse, either to cultivate his crops or to draw anything to market: and this was the exciting cause, the last in a series, which led to the formation of the first vigilance committee in the Boise basin. Salient features of this occasion were these, as related in Bancroft’s history.

“Having discovered one of his horses in a stable in Boise City, in recovering it by process of law, he (McConnell) found the costs in a justice’s court to exceed the value of the animal. This he paid amid the jeers of a crowd composed of idlers and disreputable characters, who rejoiced in the discomfiture of the ‘vegetable man.’ Thereupon he addressed them in a short speech, which contained the following pertinent words: ‘I can catch any damned thief who ever stalked these prairies; and the next one who steals a horse from me is my Injun; there will be no law-suit about it.’ A few days later two thousand dollars’ worth of horses and mules were taken from his ranch and those adjoining. McConnell and two others immediately pursued, overtaking the robbers near La Grande, killing three and mortally wounding a fourth, in a short and sharp conflict. Finding the leader of the gang had gone to La Grande for supplies, McConnell followed. By a series of well devised maneuvers, the man was captured and taken to camp. A confession was exacted of all the names of the organizations of thieves with which these men were connected, and the prisoner was shot.”

The bravery and skill of the gardener soon made him leader in the organization of the Payette Vigilance Committee, whose career after-ward was characterized by many strange and exciting incidents. An effort was made in the winter of 1864-5 to disband this committee, as being a body of men organized to violate the law, but the citizens stood by them and secured their release. The farmers had no further trouble with horse thieves, and the results of the work of the committee seemed to prove as good as those of the efforts of the great vigilance committee of San Francisco in 1854. However, crime was not fully ended in Idaho. The carelessness of some of the citizens in many districts and the wickedness of others constituted a major element in the election and appointment of officers, so that crime and misdemeanor were still rife for an in-definite period, especially along the routes of travel. Besides the many crimes committed by common outlaws, almost every public official also who had the handling of the pubic money was tempted to take advantage of his position and embezzle some of the funds that came into his possession. During the first two years after the organization of the territory the murderers of Magruder were the only ones hanged by the legally constituted authorities. It is estimated that at least two hundred outlaws were executed by vigilance committees in Idaho and Montana between 1861 and 1866.

Succeeding Daniels. Caleb Lyon, of New York, was governor of Idaho. In 1865 he left the care of the territory in the hands of C. De Witt Smith, a native of New York, a young man of promise, educated for the bar, and for some time an employee of the government in Washington, D. C. But he yielded to the temptations peculiar to society here, indulged in peculation and dissipation, from the effects of the last of which he died, at Rocky Bar, August 19, 1865, six months after his arrival.

Horace C. Gilson, of Ohio, who had been acting as secretary of the territory under Smith, was commissioned secretary in September, and thus became acting governor: but during the following summer, he too became a defaulter, in the sum of thirty thousand dollars, and absconded to China. Meanwhile Governor Lyon made such unwise use of the public funds as practically to result in robbing the territory. The territorial prisons, which were the jails of Nez Percé and Boise counties, being under the care of the territorial treasurer, were made the channel of most of the official peculation.

The first capital of the territory, as already stated, was at Lewiston, as appointed by the governor of Washington, and the first legislative assembly, which was held there, adjourned without making any change in the location of the seat of government; but the legislature of 1864 removed it to Boise City, where it has ever since remained. The people of Lewiston and vicinity were naturally so much opposed to this removal of the capital that the county commissioners there refused to acknowledge the legality of the proceeding, claiming some technical irregularities, and they went so far as to enjoin the removal of the archives and thus bring the matter into the courts. A. C. Smith, the associate justice, before whom the issue was first brought, decided in favor of the Lewiston people, against the “law-and-order” party. Governor Lyon had escaped all responsibility by leaving the territory, and the new secretary sided with the legislature and the Boise people. Appeal was made to the supreme court, which, according to law, was obliged to hold its sessions at the “capital” in August of each year. The judges, however, avoided their responsibility in this regard by holding a session in neither place, and for ten months there was anarchy. In the midst of the controversy Secretary Smith died, and for a while there seemed to be neither capital, governor nor secretary. Finally United States Marshal Alvord received orders from Washington to take the archives to Boise City, and no local authority dared resist the orders of the general government. Thus the matter was settled.

The legislature of 1864 created the county of Ada out of the southwestern part of Boise County, with the county seat at Boise City. Latah county was created from territory north of the Clearwater and west of Shoshone county, with the seat of its government at Coeur d’Alene; and the remainder of the narrow strip reaching to the British Columbia line was organized into the county of Kootenai, with the seat at Seneaguoteen. But the county boundaries of Idaho in many places gave much trouble on account of the mountains, and several lines had to be altered. Lemhi County (name taken from the “Mormon Bible”) was organized in 1869, with the county seat at Salmon City; Cassia, in 1879, with the county seat at Albion: Washington, also in 1879; Custer, in 1881; and Bear Lake, in January 1875, with Paris for the county seat. Nez Percé county was organized in 1867, Idaho county in 1875, Bingham in 1885, Logan and Elmore in 1889, Canyon and Lincoln in 1891, Bannock and Fremont in 1893, Blaine in 1895, in which year Lincoln county was reorganized and Logan and Alturas counties abolished.

The legislature of 1864 was characterized by the passage of many acts granting charters for roads, ferries and bridges, thus showing the growth of the permanent population, but, as a rarity in territorial history, did not ask anything of congress. The council at this session comprised the following members: J. Miller and E. Smith, Boise county; E. B. Waterbury, Nez Percé: S. Capps, Shoshone; S. S. Fenn, Idaho; S. B. Dilly, Alturas: J. Cummins, Owyhee, president. Members of the house: H. C. Riggs, W. H. Parkinson, J. B. Pierce and J. McIntosh, Boise county; E. C. Latta and Alexander Blakely, Idaho; George Zeigle and T. M. Reed, Nez Percé; E. C. Sterling and Solomon Hasbrouck, Owyhee; W. A. Goulder, Shoshone; W. H. Howard, Alturas and Oneida. Blakely was elected the speaker.

But the next legislature passed a large number of memorials asking appropriations for public buildings and other enterprises, also for such a change in the act organizing the territory as to allow a popular election of the territorial auditor, treasurer and superintendent of public instruction, and the probate courts to have jurisdiction in all civil cases where the amount in dispute did not exceed a thousand dollars, and also to allow the legislature to give justices of the peace jurisdiction up to two hundred and fifty dollars. The act passed by the first legislature increasing the salaries of the territorial officers was so amended as to exclude the governor from its benefit.

Lyon was reappointed governor in the autumn of 1865, and he returned to Idaho. J. S. Butler, a local historian of the time, said of Lyon: “He was a conceited, peculiar man and made many enemies and misappropriated much public funds.” Lyon, indeed, Bancroft adds, accepted his reappointment in the hope of gain. While in New York, pending his confirmation, he was approached by one Davis, who had in his possession a number of small stones which he declared to be Idaho diamonds, found in Owyhee county. The secret was to be kept until they met in Idaho. Lyon arrived first, and after waiting for some time, having become convinced that Davis was drowned on the Brother Jonathan, went to Owyhee and imparted his secret to D. H. Fogus, to whom he presented one of his diamonds, receiving in return a silver bar worth five hundred dollars. One evening the governor and the miner stole away over the hills toward the diamond fields, as described by Davis, in order to make a prospect. But the sharp eyes of other miners detected the movement and they were followed by a large number of treasure-seekers who aided in the search. “The result,” says Maize, “of two days’ hunting was several barrels full of bright quartz and shiny pebbles. Lyon was greatly disappointed and showed us the specimens, on one of which the carbon was not completely crystallized.” Along the beach line of the ancient sea, bordering the Snake River valley, there are a number of stones described in mineralogical works as allied to the diamond.

Lyon, who was once described by a newspaper correspondent as “a revolving light on the coast of scampdom,” found himself in such disgrace that at the end of six months he abandoned his post, leaving the administration of public affairs in the hands of the territorial secretary, S. R. Howlett, who acted until June, 1866, when David W. Ballard, of Yamhill county, Oregon, was appointed governor. The latter reappointed Howlett secretary.

The federal act organizing the territory provided that each member of the legislature should receive as a salary four dollars a day and four dollars for every twenty miles of travel; but, as in keeping with the times, these figures were too low, the legislature gave six dollars more per diem. Also the salary of the governor was doubled from twenty-five hundred to five thousand dollars, and the secretary’s from fifteen hundred to three thousand, and the clerks and other officers had their salaries proportionately increased. This legislature, it seems, were on the whole a rather undignified body, quarreling with both the governor and the secretary. Bancroft’s History of Idaho speaks as follows:

“With a virtuous air, the legislature demanded information concerning the amount of federal appropriations, the money received and the correspondence with the treasury department. Howlett replied that the statement given in the governor’s annual message was correct; that he found Secretary Smith to have expended nine thousand nine hundred and thirty-eight dollars for the territory, but that he had no knowledge of any other money having been received by previous secretaries, nor had he received any, al-though he had applied for twenty-seven thousand dollars on the approval of his bond for fifty thousand dollars. The legislature chose to ignore Howlett’s answer and telegraphed to McCullough, secretary of the United States treasury, alleging that Howlett had refused to give the information sought. This brought the statement from the department that fifty-three thou-sand dollars had been placed at the disposal of former secretaries, and that twenty thousand dollars had that day been placed to Howlett’s credit. This was the knowledge that they had been thirsting for, as it was a promise of the speedy payment of their per diem.”

The governor seemed to be as conscientious as any man could be in vetoing whatever acts of the legislature he considered disconsonant with the organic act of the territory, which was its constition. At the same time many of the members had evaded taking any oath of office which required allegiance to the general government, and proceeded to pass laws over the governor’s veto. They passed an act abolishing the extra pay of the governor and secretary; an act depriving the governor of the appointing power, regardless of the organic act, and reserving it to themselves or the county commissioners, and an act appropriating thirty thousand dollars for sectarian schools; but these laws were disapproved by congress. The great majority of this legislature had the opposition to a Republican government “on the brain,” and thus,, in a kind of mania, could scarcely think of anything else to do but pass acts militating against everybody and every-thing imported from the east.

During the proceedings above recited, Howlett was necessarily in correspondence with the treasury department at Washington, and had given information concerning the refusal of the majority of the members to take the oath of office. Accordingly the department instructed Howlett to withhold the pay of the rebelling members until they had taken the prescribed oath. Of course this raised a storm. The legislature passed resolutions charging the secretary with incompetency, malfeasance in office, etc., and demanding his removal from office. Personal violence seemed to be imminent. The secretary then called on the United States marshal for protection: the latter in turn called upon the military force at Fort Boise, and a squad of soldiers was accordingly stationed in front of the legislative hall, which naturally irritated the disloyal members still more, raising their temper up to white heat. In order to prevent bloodshed. Judges McBride and Cummings recommended that Howlett pay all that would then take the oath of allegiance, and the next day a majority did this and received their pay. This plan was successful in calming the troubled waters.

The governor, David W. Ballard, who was a native of Indiana, had emigrated to Oregon in 1852, and had served in the Oregon legislature, from Linn county. He was a physician by profession, a gentleman of mild manners and firm principle, and fearless in the public discharge of duty. His policy as the executive of the territory of Idaho was such as to excite the opposition of his political opponents, among whom were the impetuous element from the southern states, who were generally too hasty in precipitatmg anything like a fight. This opposition was led by a man named Holbrook, the delegate of the territory in congress. Although a man of intellectual force, having been a student at Oberlin College, in Ohio, he became a victim of dissipation after his emigration to the Pacific coast in 1859. He was a young man, not yet thirty years of age at the time of his service as delegate in congress, when he was endeavoring to secure for the territory an assay office and an appropriation for a penitentiary. He was finally shot and killed by Charles Douglass while sitting in front of his law office, in June, 1S70. But his principal work at congress was to have Ballard ousted from his office as governor of Idaho. According to his request, in the summer of 1867, President Johnson suspended Governor Ballard and nominated for his place Isaac L. Gibbs: but before the commission was made out the president changed his mind. The letter containing the notice of suspension, which had been sent to Ballard, was forgotten, and the suspension was not revoked until November, when Ballard was restored to office.

For some time after the above episode the elective officers of Idaho were those nominated by the Democratic Party, but violent characters among them became gradually more and more diminished in their numbers and the turbulent element from the old south fell to such a small minority that they dared not undertake many “high-handed” measures.

In 1868 J. K. Shafer was elected a delegate to congress over T. J. Butler, the founder of the Boise News, which was the pioneer journal of southern Idaho. Mr. Shafer was an able lawyer who, a native of Lexington, Virginia, had emigrated to California in 1849, in which state he was the first district attorney of San Joaquin county, and for ten years the judge of the district court of that county. Having been a graduate of a college at Lexington, he possessed fine literary attainments, and he was known to be of irreproachable character. He was a pioneer here in Idaho, and he finally died at Eureka, Nevada, November 22, 1876.

Ballard’s administration of the affairs of the territory as an executive was popular, and a majority of the citizens of Idaho petitioned for his reappointment; but by the time this petition was presented another man had been appointed governor, namely, Gilman Marston, of New Hampshire. At the same time a new secretary was also appointed, E. J. Curtis, who, in the absence of the governor, administered public affairs for a year and a half. A native of Massachusetts, he adopted the profession of the law, emigrating to California in 1849, resided in Siskiyou county, which he twice represented in the legislature, was judge of the court of sessions of Trinity county two years, came to Owyhee in 1865, and finally settled in Boise City, and continued in the practice of law. As secretary of Idaho he brought order out of confusion and by protracted hard labor succeeded in having established a working state library.

While Mr. Curtis was secretary and acting governor, Marston resigned his office as govern-or, and Thomas A. Bowen, a southern Republican who had been district judge in Arkansas, was appointed in his place; but he soon resigned and Thomas W. Bennett was appointed. He was a native of Indiana who had graduated at As-bury University in that state and became a law-yer; was a captain of a Union company in the civil war, major, colonel, and finally brevet brigadier-general, and in 1869 was mayor of Richmond, that state.

Eastern men who were qualified to administer public affairs and demanded large salaries did not desire office in the wild west, and hence it was difficult to engage them to come to Idaho and reside. Therefore the party in power at Washington was obliged to be almost continually seeking for men to accept office for Idaho, and the men selected generally desired to have the office only on condition that they remain east and draw the salary.

In 1870 the Democrats again succeeded in electing their candidate as delegate to congress, S. A. Merritt, and in 1872 John Hailey, whose sketch is given elsewhere in this volume, received as a Democrat an overwhelming majority. In 1869 McBride resigned his office as chief justice of the territory and David Noggle was appointed. The latter had been a lawyer in Wisconsin, a circuit judge and a leading campaign speaker; but softening of the brain had be-gun before it was recognized, and his appointment to the office here in Idaho was made after that disease had begun to influence his conduct. He became pliant in the hands of the forward politicians. J. R. Lewis, who was his associate in the third district, was an upright judge, and on that account made himself obnoxious to scheming politicians, one of whom, in order to have the judge removed, forged a letter of resignation and forwarded it to Washington. The same means had been tried to get rid of him in Washington Territory, by the whisky dealers of Seattle. Before the trick of ousting him in Idaho was discovered at the seat of the federal government, M. E. Hollister, of Ottawa, Illinois, was appointed in his place. Hollister succeeded Noggle as chief justice in 1875, while John Clark succeeded Hollister in the third district. William C. Whitson, who had been justice in the first district, and died in December, was from Oregon, where he had been clerk of Polk County. He as assumed the office at the early age of twenty-one years, and was elected county judge at the age of twenty-eight. He was a man of liberal education and a successful attorney. He died in December, 1875, and Henry E. Prickett, who had been a member of the legislative council, was appointed judge of the first district. He held the position to the year 1884, which fact is an evidence of his capability.

As governor of the territory Bennett was succeeded, in 1875, by D. P. Thompson, a rising man of Oregon, appointed by President Grant. Thompson was born in Ohio, in 1834; emigrated to Oregon overland in 1853; engaged in public surveys until 1872, among other transactions running the base line of Oregon across the Cascade mountains; was state senator from 1868 to 1872, from Clackamas county; from 1872 to 1878 was extensively interested in mail contracts; appointed governor of Idaho in 1875, but resigned the next year for business reasons, returning to Oregon; in 1878 was elected representative to the legislature from Multnomah county; in 1879, chosen mayor of Portland; organized banks, of one of which he was president; built a railroad around the falls of the Willamette, and was engaged in many other business enterprises, in most of which he was successful.

His successor in the gubernatorial office here was M. Brayman, then J. B. Neil. S. S. Fenn became the territorial delegate, after a successful contest in a doubtful election. Curtis, as secretary, was succeeded in 1878 by R. A. Sidebotham, and he by Theodore F. Singiser. In 1878 George Ainslie was elected to succeed Fenn as delegate.

About this time the people of the panhandle of Idaho began to make a move to be either annexed to Washington, or, with a slice from Montana, to be organized into an independent territory, to be named Columbia. After the seat of government had been taken away from Lewiston and established at Boise, in the southern part of the territory, they felt as if they were “left out in the cold.” To advance there claims they establislied at Lewiston, a newspaper organ named the Radiator. Several propositions were made, the most important of which was the memorial of the Idaho legislature in 1865-6 to congress praying for an elision of the panhandle and an indemnity in the form of a slice from the territory of Utah; but all efforts in the direction of readjustment of boundary lines proved to be in vain. However, there were a number of settlements that were supposed to be in northern Utah which proved on survey in 1871 to belong to Idaho. These were Franklin, Weston, Malad, Fish Haven. Ovid, Bloomington, Paris and St. Charles, aggregating about twenty-five hundred people, who had been paying taxes to Utah; and the addition of this strip to Idaho also brought in a considerable amount of natural wealth.



MLA Source Citation:

Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 31 August 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/idaho/political-secessionism-and-crime.htm - Last updated on Jun 30th, 2013


Categories: , ,
Topics:
Locations: , ,

Contribute to the Conversation!

Our "rules" are simple. Keep the conversation on subject and mind your manners! If this is your first time posting, we do moderate comments before we let them appear... so give us a while to get to them. Once we get to know you here, we'll remove that requirement.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Newsletter Signup

We currently provide two newsletters. Why not take both for a run?

Genealogy Update: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new, or significantly updated, collection or database on our website.

Circle of Nations: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new (or significantly updated) Native American collection or database on our website.

Once you've clicked on the Subscribe button above you'll receive an email from us requesting confirmation. You must confirm the email before you will be able to receive any newsletter.